More free childcare and cutting taxes for the low paid are among the measures to raise living standards being recommended by business leaders.
The CBI said the slow pace of the UK's economic recovery had "hit people's finances hard", and "immediate help" from the government was needed.
The CBI, which represents more than 190,000 businesses, begins its annual conference in London later.
Living standards and the UK's place in Europe are expected to be major themes.
'No miracle cure'
Speaking ahead of the conference, the CBI's director general, John Cridland, said the UK needed to "face up to some real long-term challenges" including greater competition from abroad, and changing demands for skills from industries.
But he said shorter-term measures were needed alongside long-term plans to help low-paid households still struggling in the wake of the recession.